Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jan 20, 2017

Melbourne Metro confirmed again as top priority nation

News today that the Melbourne Metro is one of the highest transport priorities for the nation should finally convince Malcolm Turnbull to join the Victorian Government in properly funding the project.

Indeed Infrastructure Australia approved the Metro project in 2012.

That is why Federal Labor funded the project in 2013 and why we have been so frustrated with the Coalition Government’s decision to strip this funding away as soon as it came to office in 2013.

If the Coalition Government had not cut funding from the Melbourne Metro, this project would be well underway by now.

Instead the funding was directed to the East West link, a project that didn’t stack up and that was poorly planned.

As a result, Victorians have been massively dudded on infrastructure funding, receiving less than eight per cent of federal funding despite having 25 per cent of the population.

It’s time for the Coalition to listen to the experts in the nation’s interest and get on with the job.

Jan 13, 2017

Federal WestConnex funding all spent before route is even finalised

It has been revealed that the Federal Government’s grant funding for WestConnex has now been completely expended despite basic planning of the project including the route, interchanges and access points still not having been finalised.

In response to a parliamentary question on notice to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, in December, I have now received written confirmation that the entirety of the Government’s $1.5 billion grant to the NSW Government has been spent.

These federal funds have been forwarded and spent despite the NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, confirming earlier this month that there is still no final plan for how WestConnex will achieve its original objective of delivering commuters to Sydney Airport or freight to Port Botany.

This demonstrates once again why the WestConnex project has been so flawed – at every stage federal funding has been handed over before proper planning has been completed. That federal funding has now been fully expended.

 In another response to a parliamentary question on notice, the Federal Minister confirmed that the NSW Government has not requested any further funding.

 The Coalition’s approach to WestConnex is spend money now, ask questions later.

I have repeatedly raised with Minister Chester and his predecessors the shambolic planning processes and community concern about the impacts of this project. In spite of the Commonwealth’s contribution to the WestConnex project, the Federal Government has not addressed any of the practical issues which I have raised and therefore I have made direct representation to the State Government and Minister Gay in particular.

 Please find here a copy of Minister Chester’s response to my questions on notice.

Jan 12, 2017

PBO report confirms new cuts to transport infrastructure

Today’s PBO report confirms the Coalition Government’s pattern of underinvestment in infrastructure, with a further $1.1 billion cut from commitments in the May 2016 Budget, just eight months ago.

This comes in addition to underinvestment in the nation’s infrastructure program in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, against what was promised by the Coalition in its 2014 Budget.

2016-7 Budget vs MYEFO – transport infrastructure spending
Year May 2016 Estimate (Budget) December 2016 (MYEFO) Difference (negative is a cut)
2016-7 9178 8327 -851
2017-8 8753 8510 -243
2018-9 5046 5450 404
2019-20 3956 4155 199
Forwards 26933 26442 -491

 

Malcolm Turnbull and his Ministers have been serially misleading Australians about their level of investment in new railways, roads and other infrastructure.

While the Government has claimed for years that it will spend $50 billion on infrastructure between 2014/15 and 2018-19, the actual money committed is $34 billion, and falling.

Proof of the Government’s misleading behaviour comes amid growing calls from economists and business leaders for it to boost infrastructure to support jobs and economic growth. Those calls have increased since this month’s National Accounts showed the economy contracted by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter.

In its 2014 Budget, the Coalition undertook to invest $8 billion on infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year. But the recently released Final Budget Outcome for 2015-16 shows the Government invested $5.5 billion.

That underspend followed an underinvestment of $900 million in the previous year.

The December MYEFO shows yet another cut of $1.1 billion in this year’s and next year’s spending – against what was promised as recently as the May 2016 Budget.

It is time Australia had a government prepared to support economic and jobs growth, not just talk about it.

Mr Turnbull must stop misleading his fellow Australians and actually invest in the nation’s future.

Dec 28, 2016

Turnbull infrastructure con exposed by Department

Official figures from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development prove Malcolm Turnbull and his Ministers have been serially misleading Australians about their level of investment in new railways, roads and other infrastructure.

While the Government has claimed for years that it will spend $50 billion on infrastructure between 2014/15 and 2018-19, the actual money committed is $34 billion.

Proof of the Government’s misleading behaviour comes amid growing calls from economists and business leaders for it to boost infrastructure to support jobs and economic growth. Those calls have increased since this month’s National Accounts showed the economy contracted by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter.

Mr Turnbull and his ministers have rejected these calls, claiming they are investing $50 billion on infrastructure.

However, in an answer to a question on notice to a Senate Budget Estimates committee about investment levels, the Government’s own Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has debunked Mr Turnbull’s misleading claims.

The department says the Government’s “total” program over its first five years in office will be worth $34 billion, with another $8 billion proposed to be invested “onwards.’’ meaning into the unspecified future.

Mr Turnbull must now explain to Australians why he has been misleading them about infrastructure investment.

He must also apologise for misleading Parliament on November 24, when he claimed to be spending $50 billion when making his annual address to Parliament on the progress of his infrastructure program.

He should also explain why he wasted $18 million of public money on pre-election television and newspaper advertisements repeating his misleading claims and why he actually cut infrastructure investment to pay for these advertisements.

But above all, the Prime Minister must actually invest in infrastructure.

At a time of economic transition, investing in the right projects will support economic growth and jobs in the short term while unlocking productivity gains that will fuel further growth over the long term.

The Government could begin to boost investment simply by delivering on its promises.

In its 2014 Budget, the Coalition undertook to invest $8 billion on infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year. But the recently released Final Budget Outcome for 2015-16 shows the Government invested $5.5 billion.

That underspend followed an underspend of $900 million in the previous year.

It is time Australia had a government prepared to support economic and jobs growth, not just talk about it.

Mr Turnbull must stop misleading his fellow Australians and actually invest in the nation’s future.

…………………..

 

 

BACKGROUND NOTES AND LINKS TO SOURCE DOCUMENTS
THE CLAIMS

PAUL FLETCHER,
Speech to the National Roads Summit—’Roads, Jobs and Growth’
19 May 2016

The Turnbull Government is funding infrastructure at record levels all around Australia. We are investing over $50 billion for the period 2013-14 to 2019-20 onwards, in critical road and rail infrastructure. In 2016-17 we will spend over $9 billion on transport infrastructure, a record for any Commonwealth Government.
http://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/pf/speeches/2016/pfs009_2016.aspx
PAUL FLETCHER
ABC AM with Michael Brissenden
19 October 2016

Look, let’s be clear. The Turnbull Government is spending $50 billion on infrastructure between now and 2019/20 all around the country. This year we will spend $9 billion, that’s the budgeted figure of $9 billion 2016/17.

http://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/pf/interviews/2016/pfi027_2016.aspx
PAUL FLETCHER
ABC AM INTERVIEW
17 February 2016

Michael, I think it shows how important infrastructure is and also how much is already going on. The Turnbull Government has a $50 billion program of infrastructure spending over 2014/15 to 2019/20 projects all around the country upgrading the Pacific Highway, the Bruce Highway, Western Sydney airport—we’ve made a commitment to that which had been not progressed for many years.
http://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/pf/interviews/2016/pfi004_2016.aspx
DARREN CHESTER
Doorstop
24 November 2016

Darren Chester: Thank you, Paul, today’s government response to the Infrastructure Plan is an important part of the journey in terms of seeing our foundation for our next stage of infrastructure investment. Right now we have a $50 billion infrastructure investment program rolling out right across Australia, not just in our cities, not just in our regional highways but also in those small country and rural areas and we recognise when you invest into infrastructure you can change people’s lives, you can save people’s lives. It changes lives by reducing congestion, improving productivity and also saves lives obviously in relation to reducing road trauma which is an issue of national significance.

Transcript available on Mr Chester’s ministerial website.
COALITION 2016 ELECTION DOCUMENT

The Turnbull Government is investing a record $50 billion in Australia’s land transport infrastructure – to improve road and rail links, reduce travel times and support economic growth.
https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/building-australias-infrastructure
MALCOLM TURNBULL
Annual infrastructure statement to the House of Representatives
November 24, 2016

That includes $50 billion for transport infrastructure and $30 billion for other infrastructure like the National Broadband Network, water infrastructure, regional grants programs and other major project financing.
https://www.pm.gov.au/media/2016-11-24/address-parliament-annual-infrastructure-statement-and-australian-governments

EVIDENCE THESE CLAIMS ARE WRONG

There is no $50 billion infrastructure program.

In February, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie asked at a Senate Budget Estimates committee hearing for details on total infrastructure spend in her home state of Tasmania. The Department took the question on notice, and recently quietly tabled a comprehensive table showing that the total infrastructure spend around the nation as at August 31, 2016 (below).
It shows that in the first five Coalition budgets (2014-15, 15/16, 16/17, 17/8 and 18/19) $34 billion will be invested in infrastructure.

A further allocation of $7.9 billion is for “onwards”. No time is given for that investment. It has been pushed off to the never never.

Note that back in February, when the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Mike Mrdak,undertook to the Senate committee to provide the details about the infrastructure program on notice, he said: “We can give you the whole program.”

So the “the whole program”is $34 billion over five years with vague promises of $8 billion some time off into the future.
WILL THE GOVERNMENT SPEND THAT FULL AMOUNT?

Probably not.
In the 2015-16 Final Budget Outcome document it emerged that the Government had invested only $5.5 billion in that year. But in the 2014 Budget, it had promised to invest $8 billion in that period.
That’s an underspend of $2.5 billion. However, the figures also included a $490 million payment to the WA Government as GST compensation. So the underspend is closer to $3 billion, or about 35 per cent of the total budget for that year.
And that is just for one year. There was a $900 million underspend the year before.

Anthony Albanese issued the release on this issue on October 18, 2016.

SHADOW MINISTERIAL MEDIA RELEASE
Oct 18, 2016
Infrastructure funding slashed by 35 per cent

The Turnbull Government cut its own infrastructure investment Budget by $3 billion in the year to June 30, according to Treasury figures tabled in Parliament.
In its notorious slash-and-burn Budget of 2014, the Government promised to invest $8 billion on transport infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year.
But Treasury figures show actual Government investment on infrastructure was $5.5 billion in 2015-16.
This included a one-off payment to Western Australia of $490 million that was not included in the Government’s proposed $8 billion figure.
This means a cut of $3 billion or over 35 per cent – more than a third – over what was originally promised.
It follows a $900 million underspend in actual investment in 2014-15 compared with the 2014 Budget figures.
The cuts have been made to projects including the Pacific Highway, Bruce Highway, Adelaide’s South Road upgrade and Brisbane’s Gateway North project.
Forward projections form this year’s Budget show that in 2019-20 investment on rail will fall to zero (2016-17 Budget Paper Number 1, page 5-38).
As Australia deals with the decline in the investment stage of the mining boom, the Government should lift infrastructure investment to maintain economic activity and support construction jobs.
Instead, the Coalition has cut investment, scrapping public transport projects and then failing to deliver its preferred toll roads.
To add insult to injury, Malcolm Turnbull wasted $18 million of public money prior to the election on propaganda advertisements which falsely claimed the Government had delivered record investment.
Only a Labor Government will deliver the rail, roads and other infrastructure our nation needs to sustain economic and jobs growth.

Dec 28, 2016

Lines of accountability a state secret

Obsessive Government secrecy has reached bizarre new levels with the Turnbull Government refusing to provide the Opposition with information about which of its several infrastructure Ministers has actual responsibility for infrastructure.

The Turnbull Government has at least six Ministers with infrastructure responsibility, including Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester, Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher, Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash; Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Assistant Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor.

But the lines of responsibility are unclear, with officials at a recent Senate Estimates Committee hearing struggling to offer coherent and consistent explanations about who was responsible for particular programs and projects.

Despite this, the Government has rejected an application from the Opposition for charter letters from Mr Turnbull to his Ministers explaining who does what in this critical policy area.

The Opposition’s application under Freedom of Information laws was rejected on the basis that the material might reveal information before Cabinet.

This is an extraordinary response which I will seek to have reviewed by the Information Commissioner.

The responsibilities of Ministers of the Crown should not be a state secret.

Australians deserve to know who is accountable for Government decisions.

And the Opposition has a right to know to which minister it should direct reasonable questions about infrastructure, particularly given the Government underspent its own infrastructure budget by more than 35 per cent in 2015-16 and has been serially misleading Australians about the size of its investment program.

Dec 19, 2016

Government derailment on infrastructure

Today’s MYEFO announcements on infrastructure represent the Government’s final abandonment of the Infrastructure Australia process of evidence-based decision making on infrastructure investment.

The closure of the Building Australia Fund, which was for projects approved by Infrastructure Australia, would be bad enough in itself, but the funding of 75 small projects, 73 of which are in Coalition-held electorates at the time of the election, is an appalling abuse of Commonwealth responsibility.

Not one of these projects has been approved by Infrastructure Australia.

The Government’s MYEFO announcements are short-sighted and will reduce future economic growth.

While the Government has found funding for pathetic pork barrelling, it has failed to invest in major public transport projects including Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, the Melbourne Metro, the Western Sydney Rail Line, the Peth Metronet or AdeLINK.

At a time when the mining boom is moving from its investment stage to production, the Government should be increasing investment in infrastructure to support jobs and economnic growth.

Instead, the Turnbull Government is cutting overall investment and pretending otherwise.

Investing in the right projects would support economic and jobs growth in the short-term while boosting productivity over the longer term, thereby underpinning future growth.

Dec 16, 2016

New figures confirm collapse in infrastructure investment

New Government figures have highlighted the collapse on overall infrastructure investment under the Coalition Government.

The figures, released yesterday, show investment in transport and energy infrastructure have all been in freefall since the election of the Coalition after investment increased significantly under the former Labor Federal Government.

The figures are contained in the Australian Infrastructure Statistics, Yearbook 2016.

It notes, “Growth in transport infrastructure construction increased in 2009-10 to 2011-12. However, the value of transport construction activity stabilised in 2012-13 and has decreased since 2012-14.’’

Confirmation of the cuts follows earlier Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that total public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.

They also follow confirmation that in the 2015-16 the Government invested $5.5 billion in infrastructure, which is $2.5 billion less than it had promised to invest.

That figure included a $490 million payment to the WA Government as GST compensation, so the full underspend was closer to $3 billion or about 35 per cent.

The collapse in spending comes amid growing calls from economists and business leaders for the Government to increase infrastructure investment to support jobs and economic growth as the mining boom continues its transition from its construction stage to production.

These calls have increased since last week’s National Accounts showed the economy contracted by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter.

Instead, Mr Turnbull is continuing to cut investment.

It is time he listened to the experts and accepted there is a clear role for Government to support economic growth.

Investing in the right projects will create short-term economic activity while unlocking long-term productivity gains that will drive future waves of growth.

Dec 16, 2016

New report shows collapse in rail investment under coalition

New Government figures have confirmed a dramatic collapse in rail investment under the Coalition.

The Australian Infrastructure Statistics, Yearbook 2016, released yesterday, shows that total Commonwealth investment in rail has hit its lowest point since the Howard era.

The report also shows the former Labor Government’s record investment in rail.

This includes in its last two Budgets where rail expenditure reached $1.6 billion over 2013-14 and $1.2 billion over 2012-13.

But in its first year the Coalition Government’s investment in rail collapsed to $741 million.

This confirmation of serious under-investment comes a week after it was revealed in the National Accounts that “public capital expenditure detracted 0.5 percentage points from growth as it declined from elevated levels in the June quarter”.

The warning follows earlier Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that total public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.

It also comes after news that in the 2015-16 financial year the Government invested only $5.5 billion in infrastructure, despite having promised in its notorious 2014 Budget that it would invest $8 billion.

Since last week’s release of the National Accounts, business and industry leaders have called on the Government to increase its infrastructure investment.

Instead this Government is cutting spending and continuing to pretend otherwise.

Forward projections from this year’s Budget show that in 2019-20 investment on rail will fall to zero (2016-17 Budget Paper Number 1, page 5-38).

Increased rail investment is critical given worsening traffic congestion, which is acting as a handbrake on productivity and economic growth.

Now is the time to invest in rail.

Dec 12, 2016

Approval of Badgerys Creek Airport

Labor welcomes the next step in approvals for the long-awaited Badgerys Creek Airport.

The Turnbull Government must ensure it makes the most of this opportunity by linking the airport to the Sydney passenger rail network from the day it opens.

The principle that the Government should adopt for this greenfield site is to maximise the economic benefit and job creation while minimising environmental impact.

Even the design of the airport itself can minimise aircraft noise, as has happened in the development of overseas airports such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Indeed, the Government must follow international best practice across the board for the project, including on community consultation in coming years as it moves forward.

That must include consultation over flight paths including ensuring the establishment of a night time no-fly zone over existing communities.

The former Hawke Labor Government placed developmental protections over the site that should be used to minimise the impact of the airport.

The Government must take advantage of that opportunity in consultation with western Sydney residents.

Dec 12, 2016

Time to invest in Townsville’s future

The Coalition needs to invest in economic growth in Northern Queensland by ending its go slow approach to infrastructure investment.

It should expedite and finalise building the much needed Townsville Stadium to support economic growth and jobs in the short term.

Completion of this project will also boost the region’s tourism.

Labor has a strong track record when it comes to supporting the Townsville region. Today I attended the opening of the Townsville Ring Road funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

We also funded a number of other projects in North Queensland including the Cardwell Range Crossing, the Vantassel upgrade and the Townsville Port Access Road.

In contrast, the Coalition is yet to deliver on a number of its commitments, including upgrades to the Bruce Highway.

Last year, the Coalition spent $114 million less on upgrading the highway than it promised in its own 2014 Budget.

More than half of currently schedule investment in the Bruce Highway will not be made until the next decade.

This failure to actually invest is part of a national pattern of underinvestment across the nation.

Last week the National Accounts stated that, ‘public capital expenditure detracted 0.5 percentage points from growth…’

This warning followed earlier ABS figures showing that total public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.

The experts also agree.

Two Reserve Bank Governors, both the incumbent Philip Lowe and his predecessor Glenn Stevens, have stressed that the Government should consider borrowing to fund good infrastructure projects that provide a solid public benefit in return for the investment.

By investing in infrastructure in Northern Queensland we not only provide an economic return to the local community, but also increase the capacity of the nation’s economy to grow.

It’s time to get on with investing in Townsville’s future.

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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